You may be surprised to learn that some people SLEEP with their eyes open. And it's more common than you might expect. About 20 per cent of people do, including babies. Doctors call this condition nocturnal lagophthalmos.
If you have it, you can usually close your eyes most of the time when you sleep, but not all of the time. People with nocturnal lagophthalmos may find it helpful to practice blinking more frequently and fully during waking hours to make sure their eyes have enough moisture. Treatment for sleeping with the eyes open is usually straightforward, and eye drops, eyelid weights and air humidifiers can help. Because contact lenses reduce the moisture in your eyes, in most cases you will wake up with dry eyes if you sleep with your contact lenses in.
For this reason, it may be surprising to learn that some people sleep with their eyes partially or fully open. People experiencing symptoms can be given eye drops to lubricate the eyes during waking hours and a sleeping ointment. Sleeping with a humidifier in the bedroom can also keep the surrounding air moist and less likely to dry out the eyes. Graves' ophthalmopathy, in which the eyes bulge or protrude, can also make it difficult to close the eyes.
Most people realise they have slept with their eyes open because someone else tells them they have done so. In one type of surgery, a gold surgical implant is inserted into the eyelid that functions as a weight to keep the eye closed while sleeping. People often sleep with their eyes open because of a problem with the facial muscles, nerves or skin surrounding the eyelids. Don't let your uncomfortable sleep-related eye symptoms go untreated, and you'll finally get the serious rest you deserve.
It's important to talk to a doctor if you're concerned about your eyes or the amount of sleep you're getting. Most people find out they have it when someone tells them that their eyes stay slightly open during the night.